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OLR Research Report


February 10, 2009

 

2009-R-0084

CONNECTICUT'S WORKER RETRAINING AND EMPLOYER-BASED CUSTOMIZED TRAINING PROGRAMS

By: Rute Pinho, Research Analyst

You asked for an inventory of the state's worker retraining programs and employer-based customized training programs. For each program, you want to know relevant (1) funding sources and (2) outcomes.

SUMMARY

The state's workforce development system consists of numerous institutions and programs that provide short-term training and employment services, post-secondary education, and adult education. A subset of the short-term training and employment programs focuses on worker retraining. These federally-funded programs are designed to help unemployed individuals reenter the workforce by upgrading or improving their job skills. While they have relatively high employment and 6-month job retention rates, they produce mixed results when comparing pre- to post-program weekly wages.

The state's workforce development partners also provide a number of “demand-driven” training programs that are customized to fit a particular employer's needs. These programs provide basic or technical skills training to an employer's current or future employees. A state network of agencies and partners coordinates, finances, and delivers these services.

THE STATE'S WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM

The state's workforce development system consists of a number of institutions and programs that provide (1) short-term training and employment services, (2) post-secondary education, and (3) adult education. The short-term training and employment service programs serve populations with varying needs ranging from basic job placement assistance for individuals receiving public assistance to retraining programs for workers who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing.

Jobs First Employment Services – the welfare-to-work component of the Department of Social Services welfare program.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) – assists workers whose employment is adversely affected by increased imports or production shifts to foreign countries.

Wagner-Peyser – basic labor exchange services (e.g., vocational counseling, job referral and placement, and resume writing) to all job seekers and employers.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adults and Dislocated Worker Services – three-stage employment and training services for adults and dislocated workers.

WIA Youth Services – job training, counseling, and summer employment services for eligible youth.

The state's network of higher education institutions provides occupational and technical education and confer 2-year, 4-year, and graduate degrees. Adult education providers, on the other hand, operate in their local communities to assist adults to become literate and obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and self-sufficiency (Connecticut Employment and Training Commission [CETC] 2007 Report Card for Employment and Training Programs).

WORKER RETRAINING PROGRAMS

For purposes of this report, we provided specific outcomes and funding sources for the subset of short-term employment and training programs that focus on worker retraining, namely the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker and TAA programs. These programs are designed to help individuals with extensive job experience reenter the workforce or increase their earnings by upgrading or improving their job skills. (We excluded programs such as Jobs First, the training portion of the state's welfare-to-work program, that primarily serve individuals with little or no prior work experience.) We have included a copy of the CETC's 2007 Report Card for Employment and Training Programs for your review. It includes outcomes for all of the training programs, post-secondary institutions, and adult education services.

WIA- Adults and Dislocated Workers

The WIA job training program for adults and dislocated workers provides federal funds to states and local areas for employment and training services. (WIA defines a dislocated worker as an individual who (1) has been terminated or laid off, (2) is eligible for or has exhausted unemployment insurance, or (3) is unemployed due to certain circumstances.) It involves three stages: core, intensive, and training services. Anyone can receive core services, such as job search assistance, career counseling, and job referrals, at the state's One-Stop Centers. Individuals may progress into intensive and training services if they qualify based on financial need and other barriers. Qualified individuals who receive intensive services and are still not able to find jobs may receive training that is directly linked to job opportunities in the local area. Participants are given an individual training account that they may use to purchase job training through a network of approved training providers.

In PY 07 (which coincides with FY 08), the adult program budget was $5.7 million and served 2,218 people, while the dislocated worker program budget was $6.2 million and served 1,703. Among total participants, 813 people in the adult program and 759 people in the dislocated worker program received training services.

As Chart 1 indicates, the adult program's employment rate has remained around 80%. Retention has improved from a low of 82.9% in PY 03 to 91.4% in PY 06. The average weekly wage reached the CETC's self-sufficiency threshold for the first time in PY 05. It exceeded this mark in PY 06. Chart 2 shows outcomes for the dislocated worker program. It has similar employment rates to the adult program, but a slightly higher retention rate at 95% in PY 06. While the average weekly wage for participants has consistently been above the self-sufficiency threshold, dislocated workers have a greater difficulty replacing their pre-program wages than those in the adult program. Post-program wages were above pre-program wages for the first time in PY 06.

Chart 1. WIA Adult: Program Outcomes

Source: CETC 2007 Report Card for Employment and Training Programs

Chart 2. WIA Dislocated Worker: Program Outcomes

Source: CETC 2007 Report Card for Employment and Training Programs

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)

The 1974 Trade Act provides federal funding for services and benefits for eligible individuals who have lost their (1) jobs or (2) work hours and wages due to foreign competition or a shift in production to other countries. TAA benefits include retraining, relocation allowances, and other reemployment services. For PY 07, TAA served 239 workers, down 20% from the previous year. Expenditures were similar in PY 07 and PY 06 at just over $2.5 million.

Chart 3 indicates the percentage of program participants who entered employment and those who retained a job for at least 6 months. The employment rate was 62.8% in PY 05 and 64.9% in PY 06, a lower rate than for the WIA dislocated worker program. Retention has remained consistently high for the past four years at over 90%. But as the third chart shows, TAA participants are not able to replace their pre-program earnings. The change in weekly earnings peaked at a $209 loss in PY 2006. Moreover, average weekly earnings have been consistently lower than those for the WIA dislocated worker program but higher than the adult program.

Chart 3. TAA: Program Outcomes

Source: CETC, 2007 Report Card for Employment and Training Programs

EMPLOYER-BASED CUSTOMIZED TRAINING PROGRAMS

The state provides a number of “demand-driven,” customized training programs to fit a particular employer's needs. These programs provide basic or technical skills training to an employer's current or future employees. The state has an extensive network of agencies and private partners that coordinate, finance, and deliver these services.

● State Department of Labor (DOL)

● Office of Workforce Competitiveness (OWC)

● State Department of Education

● Community Colleges

● Regional Workforce Investment Boards

● Department of Economic and Community Development

While we were unable to find specific outcomes for individuals receiving customized training, these programs are traditionally viewed as a highly successful method of retraining a workforce.

Incumbent Worker Training

The incumbent worker training program helps small to medium-sized businesses train their employees. The training offered depends on a specific employer's needs and can range from on-the-job training courses to associate degree programs. The DOL works with regional workforce investment boards to recruit employers into the program. Participating employers must provide a minimum 50% cash or in-kind contribution to cover the program's cost.

The program is funded by General Fund appropriations, WIA reserve funds, and employer contributions. For PY 07, this amounted to a $500,000 appropriation, $301,425 in WIA reserve funds, and $1,626,256 in employer contributions. These funds supported over 3,300 people in 2007 (WIA Annual Report, July 2007- June 2008).

21st Century Skills Training Program

The 21st Century Skills Training Program, administered by the DOL's Business Services Unit, provides demand-driven skill training resources for businesses and their current or future employees. The program is designed to develop technical skills training for new and expanding businesses. As with the incumbent worker training program, employers requesting training must pay at least 50% of its cost.

In PY 07, the legislature appropriated $1,000,532 for the program and employers contributed $1,146,907, for a total of $2,147,439 spent on training. Between October 2007 and June 2008, the program served 2,861 people in 52 projects.

The DOL set aside a portion of this funding for the Innovative Adult Basic Skills program, designed to strengthen partnerships between the state's adult education providers and the community college system. It funded four projects under this program during the 2007 PY (WIA Annual Report, July 2007- June 2008).

Connecticut Film Industry Training Program

PA 07-236 required the OWC, in conjunction with the labor, education, and economic and community development commissioners and the Commission on Culture and Tourism, to establish a program to develop a trained film industry workforce in the state. Unlike the aforementioned programs, the film industry training program was designed to meet the employment needs of the state's growing film industry, rather than a specific employer. It introduces trainees to the basics of feature film and television production and the steps required to obtain union membership, which is generally required to work on these productions.

OWC received a $1 million appropriation in FYs 08 and 09 for the program. Middlesex Community College, Norwalk Community College, and Quinnipiac University trained the first cohort of 148 students. At a January 30, 2009 meeting of the Hollywood East Taskforce, OWC noted that 32 of the graduates have participated in a certification program offered by Local 52 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees. Since completing the program, one-third of the graduates have worked on various commercial and film projects.

Community College Business and Industry Services Network

The community college system's Business and Industry Services Network (BISN) division develops customized training and retraining programs for the state's employers. Each college employs a director that serves as a liaison with employers in the college's service area. Employers contract with the colleges to design and implement a training program that meets their needs. They pay the program's cost. Typically, employees receive a program certificate rather than college credit, although some companies sponsor credit courses.

According to Gail O'Keefe, director of workforce development for the Connecticut Community College System, the BISN is currently supporting customizing training for nearly 300 partners and 15,000 employees. (This includes data for 10 of the 12 colleges. We will forward the updated numbers when we receive them.) These include local businesses, associations, community-based organizations, workforce investment boards, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations. Among others, the BISN has customized training programs for the insurance, financial services, manufacturing, and aerospace industries.

(The community colleges also provide in-service training to state agencies. Approximately 100 state agencies participated in the program last year with over 2,900 state employees receiving training.)

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